Carrier billing makes such perfect sense. Customers have an account with their carrier and can easily add stuff to their bill. We agree that one click is the maximum number of clicks that is acceptable, so what could be more sensible?
Juniper Research believes that one in five digital content sales will be done via carrier billing and that consumer spending using carrier billing will rise from $28 billion to around $90 billion in five years.
All of which is great news for the carrier community, right?
It should be, but even the potentially game changing BlueVia, from Telefonica and Telenor, which launched several years ago and immediately claimed their combined customer base as the size of the arena has gone spookily quiet. Google (other search engines are available) BlueVia and the ‘news’ is several years old. Their Twitter account went quiet in 2013. So what went wrong?
Perhaps that effort was ahead of the game, perhaps now is the moment that carrier billing pays off (if you’ll excuse the awful pun) and perhaps it will pay off big in some regions. Latin America is often cited as the best potential for carrier billing and when BlueVia launched they were saying that it would be ‘baked in’ to Firefox for that region.
In the meantime seven years have gone by and other large technology firms now understand the importance of being in control of the payment process and relationship. Both Apple and Amazon are extremely good at being the one click payment kings. The recent announcements from Apple about their new content services, linked to their new push for Apple Pay and the credit card backed by Goldman Sachs means that they are not going to give way to carriers who are now coming late to the party.
Juniper says that content publishers and providers are actively seeking partnerships with carriers and Three in Denmark recently announced a renewed push. Maybe so, but you have to suspect that while (generally smaller) content providers are being strangled by the big guys, there is no real alternative but to ride on their coat tails.
It would be really good if Juniper is right and that we are about to see huge growth. Sadly the potential of carrier billing has been known and understood for years and, frankly, nothing amazing happened.
It will be sad but not unexpected if nothing amazing continues to happen.